ALFA does a superb job at bringing important senior living issues to the forefront, but none may be as touching or as relevant to the purpose of what we do each day as the topic of lifestyle. Yes, there are many issues operators face such as staff development, real estate, regulations, and such. However, those topics deal with the business side of things and that’s not why many of us got into this line of work.
At the recent ALFA Community 2012 event in Dallas, a number of sessions focused on dignity and respect, such as the session on “what senior living residents want”. During this session, eight seniors and adult children talked about what senior living life is like from the first day the resident and family starts researching communities, to daily life after the resident is settled in. One resident panelist, speaking about his initial community tour said it best: “It’s almost like it wasn’t a business. It was like she was inviting us into her home.” Powerful.
I love the annual Short Film competition held at the ALFA conference each year. Great tools for evangelizing this topic of dignity and respect result from the contest. This year’s winning entry was just as powerful and moving as last year’s. “Life is a Ball” helps explain that every person has a rich life story – and a reminder that the seniors in our communities are people, and not just an ADL checklist task or a head in the census. Last year’s winning entry, “Mind the Gap”, is a great story for younger caregivers and employees to watch in an effort to get the message across that many seniors have the same ageism issues that many younger people do and that we all need to take an active role in overcoming prejudices and stereotypes.
I invite you to share these stories of dignity and respect with your fellow employees via email or at your next staff meeting.